Choosing an LMS for Your Organization

There are many reasons why you might be in the market for a Learning Management System (LMS). You might be new to the role of Learning Design and Development Manager, or you might be due to replace an ageing LMS that no longer suits your organization’s needs. In any case, you shouldn’t simply purchase the first LMS that fits your budget. It needs to meet your needs, as well as the needs of your entire organization. The trick is that you might not know what those needs are. Hopefully, this article can help.

What Do Learners Need?

Learners need an LMS that is easy and intuitive. It needs to be able to provide them with the answers they are looking for. Getting your organization to complete the required training is challenging enough. The last thing you want is for your LMS to be a barrier to that training. It should contribute to the motivation to learn.

Think about what competes with the LMS in your organization. Some examples are Google Search, YouTube, other training sites like and so on. All of these have one thing in common. They are all easy to use and there are no barriers to finding what a learner needs and launching it. Your LMS should be the same. Learners should be able to find the training that they want in the same way they Google something. If there is an elaborate login and enrollment process, learners will look for training elsewhere.  

What Do Managers Need?

Managers are busy people. They don't have time to look at complicated reports and chase after their employees for not completing their training. Your LMS should demand minimal amounts of their time. I once worked for an organization that was capable of producing completion reports for all the learners who completed training. This report was sent to managers so they could follow up on their employees who hadn't completed training. The irony was that the report only showed a list of employees who had completed the training. This was the exact opposite of the information managers needed. Needless to say, Managers want reporting that helps them do their job, not add additional work for them.

Managers also need to be part of the evaluation process. When learners complete training, at some point in the future we need to hear from managers if their employees have shown improvement in the areas related to the training. This should be an automated process and shouldn't be complicated for the manager to complete. A lengthy survey isn't necessary. You usually only need to ask one or maybe two questions relating to the improvement of employee performance.

What Do You Need?

The number one thing a learning design manager needs from an LMS is the ability to report on employee results. Think about it. What does the CEO, or the VP of Human Resources want to know when they come calling. I would say there are four things your LMS needs to tell you through reporting in the following order:

  1. Employees ability to perform their job

  2. Employee compliance with regulatory training

  3. Employee immediate reaction to training

  4. Test results

You might be thinking that this order is incorrect but I assure you that items like test results or smile sheets, while important, are at the bottom of my list. The reason is that an employee's ability to pass a written exam in an eLearning or classroom setting is not an indicator of an employee's ability to perform their job. The best way to measure employees ability to perform their job is to information from their manager some time after employees have completed training (Level 3). As for compliance, while this may not be the priority for an organization, not being fined by regulatory bodies, or sued for safety violations is a priority.

At your next meeting with potential LMS vendors, you will be better equipped to address what your potential next LMS can do for you.